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Typically, most workers don’t often associate medical malpractice with their jobs. If they suffer an injury at work, they either receive assistance on site or get transferred to a professional medical facility to diagnose their condition and begin the recovery process. Many of these hospitals also serve thousands of patients who aren’t from the same company as them, so most of the time, a worker can’t blame the company for the mistakes a surgeon made.
When it comes to those serving in the military, it’s a different story. Military base hospitals have become infamous over the years for providing poor medical care to service members and misdiagnosing deadly diseases. What makes it worse is a 70-year-old doctrine that limits their legal rights in recovering their damages.
A former Army infantryman in South Carolina has been suffering the physical and financial consequences of his base’s mistakes for nearly a decade. Back in 2012, he was sent to the base hospital after feeling pain in his groin. The doctors thought it was a hernia even went he went back to complain about the pain in his eight hospital visits for over two years. Because of his condition, he could not train or deploy during that time.
He was eventually honorably discharged in December 2014. Four months later, he went to the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Columbia for experiencing swelling in his neck and shoulder. Just a few days after he came, the doctors diagnosed him with stage 3 germ cell testicular cancer. Had the doctors at his military base in the last two years looked closer into his condition, the cancer could’ve been prevented from spreading through his body.
The recovering infantryman plans to file a lawsuit against the Army for medical malpractice, but unfortunately the results of a case back in 1950 will likely prevent him from succeeding. The Supreme Court’s decision on Feres v. United States (also known as the Feres doctrine) bars service members from claiming damages that occurred during their active duty.
The doctrine has been one of the most controversial pieces of legislation within the last decade as the amount of military medical malpractice cases have increased. It has been frequently challenged by injured service members and officials who believe that the doctrine is too outdated and is denying these hard-working men and women their rights.
For now, those serving in the military need to explore what medical options they have in the event of an emergency. They should consider seeking a second opinion elsewhere if they can to avoid delaying treatment on a potentially deadly condition they may have. Those who want to know more about their legal options in South Carolina for medical malpractice should contact a local experienced attorney.
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